Unless and until we understand the genesis of the chaos sweeping our nation, we’ll be helpless to stop it and its consequences…
Thom, a lot of people who have a need to create chaos are driven by less observable, unconscious processes like old fury that is being displaced onto contemporary scapegoats. This is a more psychological way of understanding people then a description of their overt behavior. In his book, DISORDERED MINDS - How Dangerous Personalities Are Destroying Democracy, Ian Hughes describes rulers like Hitler and Stalin as having a drive for absolute power over others and no conscience about how they achieve that end. These SOCIOPATHS are a small percentage of the population but they are attracted to positions of power in places like police departments, big business, and politics. As adolescents and young adults these, mostly men, join gangs and militant groups to find a sense of belonging and empowerment. They spread chaos to express their childhood rage at authority and assert their dominance. This is how they reassure themselves that they are powerful, unlike how they felt as children. Trump and Putin crave dominance and have no conscience about how that is achieved. So do many of the people who align with them.
I find this extremely helpful and clarifying. If the liberal media does nothing to vanquish the myth of the BLM riots and then the Dems acquiesce in increasingly militarized policing there’s no way out of this disaster. The Rightwing media have successfully spread this racist idea of “law and order” while sowing chaos and violence.it’s Orwellian: violence is law, chaos is order. Strenuous and intelligent opposition to that strategy has been lacking. As we saw in the ridiculous montage at the 2020 Dem convention attempting to assuage the protestors while doubling down on police. How can we widely propagate your points here?
Thom, you gave people a lot to think about.
I knew of this element long ago. I was an MP in Germany, and we worked with the Polizei. Their police had college educations and great training. One of them explained to me that when the neo-nazis demonstrated, there would be an overwhelming number of anti-nazi counter-demonstrators and it was intense. He went on to say the third faction is the real problem. His description was that they only wanted to "break windows and steal TVs".
This is primarily males, but it is not exclusive. The anarchy folks have been lurking around forever looking for opportunity---often criminal opportunities.
The destruction of property facilitates the theft in some cases. It can involve political and anti-social types, who might feel a release.of the pressure they perceive. Some others simply think it's fun and take great pleasure in it without regard for the misery, pain and death that can result. Criminal, perverse, and damaged people are in the mix. They absolutely have various mental conditions, and we need to continue to study how they got there and how to help them.
Who are these agents of chaos? I have found them to be losers. Most of them can't support themselves and can't manage any kind of a relationship with a woman or a man. Most of them are men without a decent job and with a criminal record and with drug problems. There are so many displaced males out there, they are envious and jealous of those that can actually have fun, so they go out of their way to make everybody miserable, not just themselves. About a third of Americans in my opinion at least should be locked up in a mental institution, but we don't have the capabilities to do that.
The Nazis or GOP fascists, whatever you want to call them, promise them that they will be put in the hierarchy if they use their antisocial behavior for the billionaires. It is all they have to live for. The family unit has created these monsters and the fascist will use them to bully the humans around with. That is why in my opinion the religions and the elites have worked together for thousands of years in order to reign terror and keep control of the humans by supporting the family unit.
The broken of character feed on our attention and reaction. Abandon them.
The hostile adversaries of democracy - both foreign and domestic - feed on the innocent, the ignorant, and the arrogant. Starve them.
Leave behind the parasitic antisocial duopoly that is "X" and Facebook (and of course other lesser platforms with similar algorithms). They have proven to be unquestionably toxic to civility, logic, and democracy.
They are a breeding ground of disorder, by intent. They sell us on connectedness and the sharing of free thought. They deliver us division and the proliferation of chaos. Walk away.
Our nearly monolithic system of virtual information sharing is unsustainable in its own right, as chaos is by definition unstable. The damage this inflicts upon the real world is no different - we are living in its fruition.
Social media will need to be realized in smaller, purpose-based forums - such as the Hartmann Report - to remain legitimate and relevant.
These people are a lot like the Joker in, "The Dark Knight." Enjoying the disruption and cruelty for its own sake. It's widespread -- what's fueling it? A feeling of being on the outside of what's going on -- and pure evil, the desire to destroy.
Back in the heyday of the antiwar movement, late '60s and early '71s, I lived in D.C. and was a peacekeeper (we were called marshals then) at quite a few marches and demonstrations, some of them very large (like the November 1969 Mobe march on Washington). Part of our function was to keep the "chaos agents" away from not only the demonstrators and marchers but from the police. They didn't call themselves chaos agents, of course: if they claimed an organizational affiliation it would have been to a far-lefty group like Progressive Labor or the Spartacist League. They were often fans of Chairman Mao, especially his dictum about political power coming from the barrel of a gun. I knew a few guys who believed that police brutality radicalized people so they'd do stuff like throw rocks at the police in an attempt to make them beat up the demonstrators. (This was why we tried to establish cordial relationships with the police before the demo got underway.) They were overwhelmingly male and almost as overwhelmingly white.
Much more recently, some of what flies under the "antifa" banner has reminded me a lot of those antiwar experiences. For some, fighting fascism becomes a matter of brawling with individual fascists. It's rumbling for the sake of rumbling, Sharks vs. Jets (but without the soundtrack). And as far as I can tell, it's still mostly a guy thing.
If we want to understand these "agents of chaos," we need to look at how they were raised. From the Wiki: "Researchers estimate that 85% of American youth have been physically punished by parents during childhood or adolescence." People do to their children things that would earn them serious time in prison if they did it to another adult, and unless the kid ends up in the hospital, or are so severely injured a teacher has to report, there are rarely consequences. Children are not infrequently whipped to death or otherwise killed by "punishment" in the USA. More often, they are whipped into trauma and later suffer PTSD (I speak from experience.) In this case, it is mothers doing the lion's share of the violence, and it may contribute to the generalized hatred and fear of women - misogyny.
Corporal punishment leads to a well of anger that eventually becomes generalized and is visited outward into the community, especially by males due to the tendency of violence that comes with testosterone. We don't talk about the link between widespread violence and our religiously-sanctioned abuse of children. We don't ask questions or keep much in the way of data, because people prefer to turn a blind eye. It was common, growing up in the 50's, to hear religious leaders talk about "breaking the spirit" of a child to "bring them to God." Everyone beat their kids, and as a child of seven, I watched a mother, in public, pull a switch from a Weeping Willow and whip her 2-year old to welts, with him screaming, for splashing the other kids in the kiddie pool. Nobody interfered. Another time, also at a very young age, I saw a mother take her daughter into the basement of the church and whipped her with a patent leather belt - the reason? The little girl squirmed during the sermon. Again, nobody interfered. I would be willing to bet most of these chaos agents are survivors of childhood abuse. Here's a short and interesting read:
Hurt people....hurt people and until we learn this lesson, our problem with random violence will continue.
There are some excellent comments here and I can't add much. Trump always reminded me of an angry little boy with a box of matches. Is he a deliberate chaos agent? Probably not as his businesses, for all their corruption and ruination of others (like his contractors) were organized enterprises designed to make profits. A better example might be how Hitler developed his Reich, with overlapping and confusing levels of authority (for example between the Party and the state governments or between different arms of the national authority) so that no one person could gather too much power.
I have met people who lived on chaos, and that seemed to give them a certain "control" of their lives, always being in a soap opera crisis of the moment. And I suppose a person without a deep understanding of history or government would see the news, particularly as distorted by Fox and the like, as an example of how chaotic the world is (and by implication how necessary a strong leader was). But as others have said some people just like to smash things. I would guess they have deep anger and sickness, perhaps reflecting their own sense of very low self-esteem. They have holes inside them that can never be filled by either praise, momentary success or the attention brought about by doing endless damage.
I had always thought that this chaos was and would be on the periphery of our 2 party system ( and a nod to those heady days of the peace movement during the 60’s and 70’s which as you said resulted in extreme leftist sects-but the country became less reactionary and the WU/ Black Panthers/SDS factions became less relevant). But the Steve Bannon erupted on the scene in 2015 and he espouses nihilism and I couldn’t figure out where fit it. And now it makes sense as his purpose is bring chaos and he brought that into the WH, and left the road map as he was escorted out.
I would really like to know what he did to become persona non grata at the Oval.
The so-called "successful" males who are thugs, know that they are just greedy narcissists and they don't like themselves, IMHO. They know they don't know the purpose of government, the difference between dictatorship and democracy or capitalism and communism or socialism. They look successful on the outside but they're rotten to the core on the inside and they know it, that is why they are so miserable and they want everyone else to even be more miserable who makes less money than them or even more money than them if that person is a free thinker or intellectual or a truth seeker. We need to have standards for anyone who can vote. A knowledge test, a character test and IQ test a common sense test, must all be given before a person can register to vote or attain any government job especially policing the populace.
I disagree with the categorization of any of this excrement as "recent." May I remind Mr. Hartmann that we have always had what used to be called "yellow" journalism? That the so-called "holiday" (holy day?) of Thanksgiving was inspired by news reports celebrating the massacre of indigenous people, where the word indigenous refers to the fact that they were already here? And finally (for now), that the so-called "Spanish-American" war happened after the explosion of the USS Maine in the harbor of La Habana, after which corporate journalists urged United States intervention, which led, as it has ALWAYS led in the case of this country, to the occupation and attempted annexation of ALL the countries that were fighting for their independence from Spain... including Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and to the bombing and commission of atrocities against ALL of these countries.
Cuba, mi patria querida, is STILL under occupation...
To try to understand these people, I recommend reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings while imprisoned in Germany. He uses the term stupid but not as currently understood. He uses it in the sense it’s not malice
We all have known someone who could not resist agitating and aggravating others and who seemed bent on provoking conflict and controversy. In that it appears to be a state of mind or a habitual posture and behavior, it might qualify as a mental illness. However, it is exceedingly difficult to pin down mental illness as a separate quality exhibited by individuals which are clearly identified and apart from inclinations, attributes, and learned behaviors. I suspect that mental illnesses arise in response to social, political, and economic conditions which prevail during a given segment of time. I also suspect that the people who see chaos as a tool or methodology have experienced enormous confusion and chaos in their lives and are unable to envision a life without disruption or to see the utility and benefit of organizing structures for dealing with problems. I am a bit uncomfortable with the concept of mental illness because it is too easy to believe that it is fixed or immutable. Scientists claim, I believe correctly, that approximately 90% of cognition is unconscious (as distinguished from "subconscious". Many of the dysfunctional patterns we see are derived from unconscious process and ingrained conceptions which are learned and extremely difficult to unlearn or replace. But the best approach is to work at expanding conscious awareness and trying to reduce confusion and ignorance. Most of these people seek attention and understanding and they are not getting those things in our sick society.
I understand the "genesis" (meaning origin) of the chaos. Everything ends up like it starts for life itself comes full circle: "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." The United States began through chaos and violence, and so it shall end with same. Whenever that is.
Vandalism is likely a personality disorder, but in the context of the current essay, it is likely aimed at weakening confidence in US Democratic governance. For all of my 76 years on the planet, I have watched as the GOP has increasingly focused on arguing that government should be run more like a business, and that is why there is no law and order, and too much regulation of business in a "free" country. History has pointed out that the "chaos" Tomm talks about is the first stage of creating momentum for a fascist takeover. They vandalize then blame it on minorities that are "out of control" like Black American violence (esp BLM protests), but also Jewish control of the economy, Hispanic "illegal immigrants invading the USA." and so forth. Neither Mussolini nor Hitler nor Trump are examples of very bright people, but they are ruthless and crave autocratic rule. Ironically, as Prof R.O. Paxton has pointed out, they have no vision for governing which is why hegemonic wars are a convenient distraction to create national unity and a perverted sense of patriotism.
One thing that I hope Thom will get to eventually is that their antisocial violent behavior has highlighted weaknesses in our judicial and law-enforcement systems. Trump plays the courts like a harp because he as been well instructed in how to game the system for profit. He has just taken it one step further and has games the system for power. Of course, as I just noted, he really has no vision for governance - it is just tear down the radical socialist democratic system and replace it with an autocratic CEO - Trump, or DeSantis, or Ramaswamy, or....